Many of us count TV as another member of the family. We dedicate hour upon hour to our favorite shows. We feel a connection towards the characters and their stories. Hell! We all have planned our entire day around the TV viewing schedule.
But, what exactly do we mean when we talk about television? We can describe it as:
- An ever-changing set of technologies that capture and transmit picture and sound
- The images and sounds themselves which we experience as “television programming”
- A structure of narratives and representations
- A set of institutions
Television can mean all of these things. But the definition I prefer the most is that which describes television as a social experience.
We do not merely just watch television – forgetting and disregarding everything once the screen goes black. Television is more than just staring at moving images inside a box.
It is about wanting to be part of the Big Brother house. It is about taking your rage to Twitter as you watch Q&A. It is crying inconsolably when Denny died in Grey’s Anatomy. It is not being able to wait to discuss the Red Wedding with everyone who watches Game of Thrones – even if it did scar you for life.
TV is a part of our lives. It affects, it interests, it touches us. You may have nothing in common with someone, but if you both watch Homeland, you will find you could talk to them for hours about the latest episode.
There is something just so warm and comforting about TV.
“An evening on the couch, mug of tea in my hand and the TV guide in front of me, favourite programs marked in yellow highlighter … This I love more than anything.” – McKee
And the way things are going, it seems like TV will only get better and better.
The documentary Hollywood: The Rise of TV talked about how we are living in the golden age of television. It was made not so long ago – 2005 – and yet, it seemed like the shows we have in 2013 are far superior to some of the ones discussed in film. I mean, Desperate Housewives was an excellent show, but does it really exist in the same league of Mad Men or Breaking Bad – which are nothing short of genius writing and producing. In my very humble opinion.
When the final season of Walter White’s decent into darkness is the most anticipated event of the year – more than any movie, more than even the royal baby – then you know that the quality of television content being produced is something special.
But don’t let me tell you how great TV is. Instead let people who actually made TV tell you a bit more about it.
The documentary failed to show what could be the most significant TV genre of the last decade – the reality show. Often deemed as cheap and trashy, reality TV began to grace our screen since the beginning of the new millennium. And boy! Do we like it!
There is just something so appealing about seeing ‘real’ people in ‘real’ life on our screens. There is the voyeuristic aspect to it too. For some unknown reason we are obsessed with experiencing both the triumph and failures of actual people – and reality TV exploits this desire to watch from our couches as others maneuver through real life.
There is something for everyone. You have your competition based shows such as The Block, MasterChef, and the Top Model series. There are also your medical/police emergency reality shows – Bondi Rescue, The Force, Embarrassing Bodies. As well as the unapologetically trashy and politically incorrect Jersey Shore and Honey Boo Boo.
You choose. This colorful array of sub-genres makes reality-based television rich and varied. No wonder it has been one of “the highest grossing, fastest growing, and most popular genre of shows” (Gulisano 2008) for quite some time.
I have to say I agree with McKee; I do love television so very much.
Gulisano, Lindsey (2008), Cultivation Theory: Creating Perceptions of Life from Reality Television, University of Colorado at Boulder, retrieved 01 July 2013, http://www.colorado.edu/communication/meta-discourses/Papers/App_Papers/Gulisano.htm
McKee, A (2007), Why Do I Love Television So Very Much?, Flow TV, retrieved 28 July 2013, http://flowtv.org/2007/03/why-do-i-love-television-so-very-much/